Improving the sensitivity of uranium–thorium dating
Uranium–thorium dating is a radiometric dating technique used to determine the age of materials ranging from a few years to over 800 000 years old. Current isotope mass spectrometry characterisation techniques are highly sensitive. Yet, the discrete sampling in the millimetric domain and the time-consuming chemical preparation procedure have been limiting factors against more widespread use. The EU-funded SPATULA project aims to extend the resolution of age assignments to the micrometric domain. To determine the elemental composition, it will use laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. This in situ analysis method is rapid and overcomes the time-consuming element separation processes, which also require the use of hazardous chemicals.